Allison asks: “This question has haunted me for a while now. I believe that all mankind is descended from two human beings: Adam and Eve. But I cannot explain the vastly different races. If Mankind is descended from two people, how can there be so many great differences in racial features? Thanks so much, and God bless you guys!”
Great question! I’m actually excited to answer it because it’s part of my particular area of study: Biology. You might be surprised at the answer. Let me first state that I share your view on the origin of all mankind: two people—Adam and Eve.
Before we get going, it is important we start with the definition of “race.” As we will see later, this definition is crucial in understanding why there are so many variations in human appearance.
Answers in Genesis gives a particularly interesting definition of race that sheds some light on its origin:
"Darwinian evolution was (and still is) inherently a racist philosophy, teaching that different groups or “races” of people evolved at different times and rates, so some groups are more like their apelike ancestors than others. Leading evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould claimed, “Biological arguments for racism may have been common before 1859, but they increased by orders of magnitude following the acceptance of evolutionary theory."1
The term “race,” then, means a particular group of humans that has evolved at a different rate or time than another group of humans. It should therefore be apparent that “race” is very much a (macro-)evolutionary term.
What Does the Bible Say about “Race”?
With the definition of “race” in place, what does the Bible say about these different “races”? The Bible is actually quite clear on the subject, and considering the evolutionary background of the definition of the word “race” it shouldn’t come as any surprise. It clearly states there aren’t any! Consider Acts 17:24-16 (KJV):
“24God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 25Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; 26And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;”
Verse 26 clearly states that God made all the nations of men out “of one blood”. This would make sense as Adam and Eve were the first created humans and thus all humankind must’ve descended from them. That means Biblically speaking there aren’t any different races since God created all people from the same two, original ancestors.
But if there aren’t any “races” Biblically, then what accounts for all of the differences among humans?
Quite literally the answer is a bunch of “hooblah”—specifically the mixing up of languages that occurred at the Tower of Babel.
Dr. Ken Ham, (bachelors in Applied Science with an emphasis on environmental biology, three honorary doctorates in Divinity, Literature, and Letters)—founder and President of Answers in Genesis—made the following observation (brackets mine):
"Because of the new language and geographic barriers [as a result of the confusion at the Tower of Babel], the groups no longer freely mixed with other groups, and the result was a splitting of the gene pool. Different cultures formed, with certain features becoming predominant within each group. The characteristics of each became more and more prominent as new generations of children were born. If we were to travel back in time to Babel, and mix up the people into completely different family groups, then people groups with completely different characteristics might result. For instance, we might find a fair-skinned group with tight, curly dark hair that has blue, almond-shaped eyes. Or a group with very dark skin, blue eyes, and straight brown hair. Some of these (skin color, eye shape, and so on) became general characteristics of each particular people group through various selection pressures (environmental, sexual, etc.) and/or mutation."1
What Dr. Ham is saying is that at the Tower of Babel, people groups split off and their genetic code began being repeated over and over—thus resulting in groups of people who have a predominate characteristic. You may say that this view would assume that different groups (white, black, light brown, etc.) would have to have already existed and you would be correct in saying so. Dr. Ham before explained that Noah’s family had much to do with the initial causing of these various groups:
"Those with darker skin tend to live in warmer climates, while those with lighter skin tend to live in colder climates. Why are certain characteristics more prominent in some areas of the world? We know that Adam and Eve were the first two people. Their descendants filled the earth. However, the world’s population was reduced to eight during the Flood of Noah. From these eight individuals have come all the tribes and nations. It is likely that the skin shade of Noah and his family was middle brown. This would enable his sons and their wives to produce a variety of skin shades in just one generation. Because there was a common language and everybody lived in the same general vicinity, barriers that may have prevented their descendants from freely intermarrying weren’t as great as they are today. Thus, distinct differences in features and skin color in the population weren’t as prevalent as they are today."1
Long story short, then, here is how there are differences among humans: Noah’s family’s genes would’ve allowed for a plethora of different combinations of the features of his decedents within a few generations. When God split up the people of the Earth at the Tower of Babel, it took those already specialized groups and caused them to inbreed so-to-speak. The people that ended up with the same language began living in their respective language-groups and began to intermarry. This reinforced the characteristics of those groups causing them to become more and more prominent and different from the other groups since access to rest of the gene pool of other features had been cut off by language. That’s why there are so many differences between humans (skin color, eye shape, etc.).
I will note however, that there is still not very much difference between humans genetically even today. The difference between any two people (even within a certain ethnic group) is in the order of 0.2%.1 If you look at specifically “racial” characteristics such as eye shape and skin color, the statistic goes down to 0.012%.1
In finality, then, the reason so many “races” exist is because of the Flood as well as the Tower of Babel. I will end by agreeing with Human Genome project that, “there is only one race—the human race.”1
Robert A. Rowlett